Tag Archives: Cory Spangenberg

NPB Wrap 5-8-21

Japanese baseball is hard

Masahiro Tanaka will attest to this after he got hit hard on Saturday in his fourth start. All that despite locating most of his pitches pretty well and having good velocity on his fastball and the Nippon Ham Fighters coming off a week in which they were barely able to practice.

Tanaka spills on his 2nd loss

In a country where practice volume is considered the most important factor in success, every failure is often attributed to a lack of practice. The Fighters are now 2-0 since a coronavirus cluster shutdown the club after their game on May 1. But because lack of practice is fatal, their next loss, whenever that comes, will be attributed to their layoff, while every win between now and then will be treated as an anomaly.

Fighters 4, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Naoyuki Uwasawa (3-2), the Opening Day starter for the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters, beat Tanaka for the second time, holding Pacific League-leading Rakuten to a run over seven innings, while his teammates tagged Masahiro Tanaka (2-2) for five runs over seven.

Tanaka lacked command of his splitter and threw a lot of straight fastballs that the Fighters were able to square up, and after three games of announcers and analysts wondering when we might see the two-seamer he used to throw a lot in the majors, that pitch finally made its debut.

A Kenshi Sugiya single and doubles by Kensuke Kondo and Wang Po-jung made it 2-0 in the first. A Sho Nakata single, a Wang double and a walk set the table for Shingo Usami’s RBI single. After Eigoro Mogi opened the Eagles’ fifth with his sixth homer, Kondo hit his sixth in the home half to complete the scoring. “There was nothing positive to take away from my pitching today but that (going seven innings),” Tanaka said according to Tokyo Sports Web reported.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Orix’s Daiki Tajima (2-1) allowed two runs, one earned, over six innings, while the Elmore Leonard gang, Yuma Tongu and Yuma Mune, each homered for the Buffaloes. Tongu hit a two-run shot in the second, his fifth, and Mune a solo shot in the sixth for his fourth of the year. Adam Jones also had a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth, when Steven Moya and Stefen Romero both singled and scored.

Tajima allowed four hits while striking out six without issuing a walk. Marines starter Manabu Mima (2-1) struck out nine but allowed three runs on five hits and a hit batsman over seven innings. Leonys Martin had a hand in both Lotte runs, singling in the first and doubling to help set up the second.

Three weeks shy of his 42nd birthday, Orix’s Atsushi Nomi earned his second save and struck out Brandon Laird to become the 57th pitcher with 1,500 career strikeouts and the oldest in history when he reached the milestone.

Lions 2, Hawks 0

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Seibu’s Reed Garrett walked the bases loaded in the ninth inning before jamming SoftBank star Yuki Yanagita with a 98-mph fastball for the final out.

After scoring nine runs for Nick Martinez (1-1) in his Hawks debut, SoftBank managed just five hits and a walk over six innings against Wataru Matsumoto (3-3). Takumi Kuriyama singled in a first-inning run, and Wu Nien-ting singled with two on and two outs, but Yanagita threw a strike to the plate from right field to end the inning. A Cory Spangenberg walk, a sacrifice and an Aito Takeda double made it 2-0 in the fifth. Martinez last seven innings. He allowed five hits and a walk while striking out four.

SoftBank Hawks outfielder-infielder Yurisbel Gracial left the game with a hand injury that was diagnosed as a broken right ring finger that will likely keep him out of action for a month.

Tigers 4, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, the Hanshin Tigers gave the DeNA BayStars the rookie treatment as lefty Masashi Ito (3-0) allowed a run over eight innings, while striking out five and Teruaki Sato singled twice and drove in a run each time. Sato was the Tigers’ top pick last autumn and Ito their second, while shortstop Takumu Nakano, Hanshin’s sixth pick, singled and scored a run.

Jerry Sands also singled twice for the visitors, while Robert Suarez earned his eighth save.

First-year import Fernando Romero (0-1), who tested positive for coronavirus when he arrived in Japan, allowed four runs over five innings in his NPB debut.

Tyler Austin singled and doubled for the BayStars, while DeNA rookie Shugo Maki accounted for his team’s run with his seventh home run. Mel Rojas Jr, who led KBO in RBIs in 2020 after Sands led that league in 2019, made his Japan debut, too, going 0-for-4 with two punchouts and gdp.

Carp 4, Dragons 3

And speaking of rookies, at Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome rookie Hiroshima closer Ryoji Kuribayashi earned a five-out save after entering the eighth inning with the bases loaded, getting a double play and then stranding two runners in the ninth for his ninth save.

Carp starter Allen Kuri (4-3) allowed two runs over six innings to earn his first win since April 10, while Chunichi’s Opening Day starter, Koji Fukutani (1-3) gave up four runs over 6-1/3 innings to take the loss. Fukutani did, however, contribute to two Dragons runs with a sacrifice and a game-tying RBI single.

Carp rookie Ryutaro Hatsuki homered and then singled in his team’s second run, while Ryosuke Kikuchi doubled in the tie-breaking run and scored an insurance run in the seventh. 

Starting pitchers

Sunday is going to see a tasty Central League matchup between two pitchers who had mixed results in their 2020 debut seasons but who have started 2021 on the right foot, Hanshin’s Joe Gunkel and DeNA’s Michael Peoples.

In the Pacific League, the Fighters-Eagles game will be a matchup between the phenom and the castoff, as lefty Takahisa Hayakawa, one of the prizes in the 2020 draft, goes against Takahide Ikeda, a former second-round Eagles pick. Ikeda has pitched well for the Fighters since the Eagles dealt him in March for slugging reserve infielder Taketoshi Yoko.

Pacific League

Fighters vs Eagles: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Takahide Ikeda (2-3, 3.23) vs Takahisa Hayakawa (3-2, 3.41)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuya Ojima (0-1, 4.03) vs Hirotoshi Masui (1-3, 4.28)

Hawks vs Lions: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Yuki Matsumoto (1-2, 6.00) vs Katsunori Hirai (3-1, 3.60)

Central League

Giants vs Swallows: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nobutaka Imamura (2-1, 2.37) vs Cy Sneed (-)

BayStars vs Tigers: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Michael Peoples (1-0, 0.00) vs Joe Gunkel (5-0, 2.29)

Dragons vs Carp: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yuya Yanagi (2-1, 2.08) vs Shogo Tamamura (0-1, 7.20)

Active roster moves 5/8/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/18

Central League

Activated

TigersOF24Mel Rojas Jr.
BayStarsP42Fernando Romero

Dectivated

TigersP14Chen Wei-Yin
BayStarsP49Kevin Shackelford

Pacific League

Activated

HawksOF24Yuya Hasegawa
BuffaloesP29Daiki Tajima

Dectivated

HawksP47Jumpei Takahashi
BuffaloesP45Shota Abe

NPB wrap 5-4-21

Neo classic

Dragons 8, BayStars 4

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi rookie Akira Neo hit his first home run, a third-inning grand slam to help ace Yudai Ono (2-2) overcome a pair of home runs to DeNA’s Neftali Soto, his third—a second-inning three-run shot, and Keita Sano, his fourth – a sixth-inning solo homer.

The Dragons scored four in the first against Shinichi Onuki (1-3), who allowed eight runs on eight hits and three walks over three innings. Ono lasted seven innings, struck out five and walked one while allowing seven hits.

Chunichi cleanup hitter Dayan Viciedo singled twice, walked and scored twice.

Tigers 11, Swallows 5

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Jefry Marte singled in Koji Chikamoto to open the scoring for Hanshin in the third inning and snapped a 4-4 tie with a seventh-inning solo homer, the first of four for the Tigers against Yakult’s bullpen, which leads both leagues in holds.

Takumu Nakano hit his first and fellow rookie Teruaki Sato his ninth, while Jerry Sands hit his ninth to put the game away.

Neither starting pitcher had a game worth writing home about. Swallows lefty Kazuto Taguchi worked six innings, while Hanshin’s Yuki Nishi worked five. Each allowed four runs, two earned, in an error-plagued game.

Carp 1, Giants 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yomiuri starter Yuki Takahashi remained unbeaten in six starts, as the lefty twice pitched out of big jams by retiring Hiroshima’s star hitter Seiya Suzuki. Both Takahashi and Carp lefty Hiroki Tokoda allowed just a run over seven innings.

Suzuki, however, saved the Carp in right field when he robbed Kazuma Okamoto of a two-run double with a leaping catch at the warning track before Tokoda ended his tenure on the bump by striking out Justin Smoak.

Kevin Cron singled and doubled to collect a third of Hiroshima’s hits and scored the hosts’ only run, while Zelous Wheeler singled and scored Yomiuri’s lone run.

Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi posted his 14th straight scoreless outing.

Asked on Pro Yakyu News what made Kuribayashi special, former catcher and BayStars skipper Akihiko Oya mentioned not his command, his velocity or that nasty splitter but “He pitches like no one can hit him.”

By that standard, Eddie the Eagle should have been the greatest ski jumper in history.

Hawks 6, Eagles 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Rakuten veteran Takayuki Kishi‘s struggles continued as the right-hander fell to 2-3 after allowing five runs, four earned, over three innings. Hawks reliever Jumpei Takahashi took over in the fifth inning with no outs and a runner on after the Eagles closed to within 6-3. Takahashi allowed the runner to score but stranded two runners and four of his bullpen colleagues slammed the door with lefty Livan Moinelo getting his second save.

Lions 6, Buffaloes 6

At MetLife Dome, Stefen Romero hit his first home run for Orix in two years after spending a productive 2020 with the Rakuten Eagles. His two-run, eighth-inning shot tied the game, and Seibu’s Ryosuke Moriwake got out of a one-out, bases-loaded ninth-inning pickle with a double play.

The Buffaloes’ Masataka Yoshida went 4-for-5 with a double and his seventh home run. His three RBIs helped stake the visitors to a 4-2 fifth-inning lead.

Yoshida also contributed to both teams combining to set a nine-inning record with 16 pitchers after he knocked Seibu’s Reed Garrett out of the game in the ninth with a shot off his left knee.

With closer Tatsushi Masuda deactivated following a string of poor results, Lions manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji had hoped to use Garrett in that role.

“I think it may be hard for Garrett to come back tomorrow,” Tsuji said according to Sanspo.com.

Cory Spangenberg walked to leadoff the Lions’ second and scored on an Aito Takeda single. He walked to load the bases in the fourth ahead of Wu Nien-ting’s RBI single and Takeda’s two-run double.

The Lions put runners on the corners in the ninth against former Tiger ace Atsushi Nomi, but the 40-year-old hung on to end the game thanks to a super defensive stop by substitute Koji Oshiro at second that secured a tie with the third out.

More Fighters felled by virus

The Pacific League’s Nippon Ham Fighters, currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus, announced three new infections on Tuesday, bringing the total of infected first-team players and staff to 13, Nikkan Sports reported.

In addition to the staff, coaches and players who have tested positive, five players have been determined to have had close contact with them. The Fighters have not played since Saturday. Their next scheduled game is scheduled for Friday at Sapporo Dome, but it will not take place unless Nippon Ham can field a virus-free team.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Tatsuya Imai (1-2, 2.40) vs Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2, 1.39)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-2, 3.34) vs Takahiro Norimoto (2-1, 2.14)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yasunobu Okugawa (1-1, 7.20) vs Koyo Aoyagi (2-2, 2.25)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (3-1, 3.12) vs Haruhiro Hamaguchi (1-3, 4.22)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 1:30 pm, 0:30 am EDT

Koya Takahashi (1-0, 1.74) vs Angel Sanchez (1-2, 5.89)

Active roster moves 5/4/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/14

Central League

Activated

GiantsP21Shoichi Ino
GiantsP50Chiaki Tone
CarpOF49Yuya Shozui

Dectivated

GiantsP45Seishu Hatake
GiantsP49Thyago Vieira
CarpC27Tsubasa Aizawa

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP29Ryuya Ogawa
EaglesC55Takaya Tanaka
BuffaloesP22Ryota Muranishi

Dectivated

HawksP13Akira Niho
LionsP14Tatsushi Masuda
EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
FightersC68Ryo Ishikawa
FightersIF23Ryo Watanabe
BuffaloesP68Yu Suzuki

NPB wrap 5-3-21

1-strike pitch to Yuma

Buffaloes 6, Lions 3

At MetLife Dome, Orix performed two different versions of the Elmore Leonard western “3:10 to Yuma.” Instead of an impoverished rancher getting a villain onto a train bound for Yuma Arizona, the NPB versions involved downtrodden Buffaloes getting the surviving dangerous Lions –on two fastballs: a 2-1 pitch to Yuma Tongu and a 1-1 heater to Yuma Mune.

Tongu’s fourth home run, a three-run sixth-inning homer, opened the scoring. Mune’s, a low liner to center against a drawn-in Lions outfield, iced the game in the eighth. Mune’s was his third of the season and his second in two games.

Keita Sano and Adam Jones co-starred in both versions, opening the sixth and eighth inning with singles off Tetsu Miyagawa (0-1) in the sixth and Ryosuke Moriwaki in the eighth, and then before the Lions knew it, or “あっという間” (attoiuma) as they say in Japanese, it was Yuma time.

The Lions got two back in the seventh against 19-year-old Buffaloes’ lefty Hiroya Miyagi, who had faced one batter over the minimum to that point. A leadoff walk and a single set up one-out Takumi Kuriyama and Cory Spangenberg RBI singles.

The Lions came within a hair of tying it when Wu Nien Ting lined a pitch down the left field line that was ruled to have gone foul by smidgen – or a 10th of a smidge. Wu struck out and Miyagi was charged with two runs over 6-2/3 innings on two walks, a hit batsman and four hits. The rookie struck out five.

By the way, I went to two games at Tigers Stadium in 1999, to see Masao Kida, who earned his only major league game the first night, the same game that Elmore Leonard kicked off by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

The Seibu Lions wasted five scoreless innings from Matt Dermody, whose biggest difficulty in his Japan debut was navigating umpire Shinichiro Hara’s strike zone. Dermody struck out three, walked three and allowed five hits.

Eagles 7, Hawks 4

Eagles 7, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Hideto Asamura scored three runs and drove in two as the Rakuten Eagles overcame an early three-run deficit. Ryota Takinaka (2-2) struggled with his control in the first inning, when two of SoftBank’s three runs were unearned, but settled in to go five innings.

SoftBank starter Akira Niho (0-1) cruised through four innings but allowed an unearned run in the fourth and was lit up in the fifth. Asamura, who singled and scored in the fourth, tied it with a two-out, two-run double and scored on a Hiroaki Shimauchi single.

With two outs and first base open in the seventh, the Hawks elected to walk Asamura intentionally, but he scored on a two-run Shimauchi double.

Yuki Matsui earned his eighth save, but the Hawks made him work for it with some gritty at-bats in a 23-pitch inning.

BayStars 2, Dragons 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, DeNA starting pitcher Michael Peoples (1-0) couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time for the Central League’s last-place BayStars. The second-year right-hander struck out six while allowing four hits and walking none over six scoreless innings to win a pitchers’ duel with another 2021 debutant, Chunichi’s Kodai Umetsu (0-1).

Umetsu allowed two runs, one earned, over five innings on two hits, two walks and a hit batsman. The BayStars took the lead thanks to a leadoff error that allowed Peoples to reach and score on a walk, a sacrifice and a groundout. Keita Sano made it 2-0 in the sixth, when he hammered a hanging slider from Keisuke Tanimoto for his third home run.

After a scoreless seventh by Edwin Escobar, right fielder Tyler Austin just barely misjudged a ball, turning a double into a leadoff triple, and allowing Akira Neo to score from third on a ground out against Yasuaki Yamasaki. But that was it for Chunichi’s offense as Kazuki Mishima struck out Mike Gerber and Dayan Viciedo en route to a 1-2-3 ninth and his fifth save.

Giants  3, Carp 2

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Zelous Wheeler hit the Yomiuri Giants’ third home run, a seventh-inning tie-breaking shot off Masato Morishita (3-3), and Yohei Kagiya  (1-0) retired all four batters he faced, including Kevin Cron after he inherited a two-out bases-loaded jam to earn the win.

Hayato Sakamoto fifth homer opened the scoring for the Giants, and Yoshihiro Maru’s second tied it in the sixth. Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run shot in the third. The Giants used four pitchers to get through the ninth. Thyago Vieira entered with one out and surrendered two hits. Yuhei Takanashi entered with two outs and the bases loaded and retired pinch-hitter Kosuke Tanaka to earn his first save.

I leave you with 8-time Golden Glove winner Ryosuke Kikuchi’s 5th inning robbery.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Towa Uema (1-1, 5.02) vs Daichi Takeyasu (1-0, 3.21)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Shunsuke Kasaya (1-2, 4.30) vs Takayuki Kishi (2-2, 3.34)

Central League

Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kazuto Taguchi (1-2, 4.26) vs Yuki Nishi (3-2, 2.38)

Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Yudai Ono (1-2, 2.50) vs Shinichi Onuki (1-2, 5.27)

Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (1-2, 4.56) vs Yuki Takahashi (5-0, 1.80)

Active roster moves 5/3/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/13

Central League

Activated

DragonsP18Kodai Umetsu
BayStarsP13Hiromu Ise
BayStarsP45Michael Peoples
CarpOF59Minoru Omori

Dectivated

BayStarsP12Kosuke Sakaguchi
CarpP19Yusuke Nomura
SwallowsP29Yasuhiro Ogawa

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP13Akira Niho
HawksOF51Seiji Uebayashi
LionsP28Ryosuke Moriwaki
LionsP98Matt Dermody
EaglesP57Ryota Takinaka
BuffaloesP13Hiroya Miyagi

Dectivated

HawksOF54Alfredo Despaigne
BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki

NPB wrap 5-1-21

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Fighters-Lions called off due to virus

The Nippon Ham Fighters announced four new positive tests on Saturday, a day after three other players’ positive coronavirus results were announced. Three staff members, including a coach, combined to make the team an official coronavirus cluster, and causing Sunday’s game against the Seibu Lions to be postponed.

It is the first postponement since last summer when a game in Fukuoka between the Hawks and Lions was called off over an abundance of caution after a veteran working out with the farm team was infected.

Tanaka battles through to 2nd win

Eagles 3, Marines 0

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten’s Masahiro Tanaka (2-1) and his manager and pitching coach all said his fastball had more life on it, and it was good, even if he had trouble locating it and did get away with one stinker, and perhaps they were accounting for the fact that Lotte hitters did very little with the pitches he left in the heart of the zone.

Tanaka’s 3rd start and postgame interview

In any case, Tanaka worked six innings. He walked one, hit one, and allowed five hits while striking out six. Hideto Asamura drove in a run with Rakuten’s third third-inning single and Takero Okajima, who drove in a run in Tanaka’s 2-1 win the previous Saturday, hit his second home run of the season, a two-out blast in the fourth off the Marines’ Opening Day starter, Kota Futaki (1-2).

Rakuten’s Sung Chia-hao, Hiromoto Sakai and Yuki Matsui finished up with Matsui getting his seventh save.

Hawks 9, Buffaloes 0

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the SoftBank Hawks offense gave new right-hander and former Nippon Ham Fighter Nick Martinez (1-0) a hearty welcome. The nine runs while he was the pitcher of record was the most in his 29 games in Japan. Martinez struck out four, walked one and allowed five hits over six innings.

Buffaloes starter Hirotoshi Masui (1-3) allowed eight runs, six earned, over five innings. 

Fighters 5, Lions 4

At Sapporo Dome, Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda (0-2) blew a three-run save, surrendering a two-run homer to Sho Nakata – back in the three hole, a Taishi Ota RBI double high off the wall before leaving with two on so Tetsu Miyagawa could walk two batters as Nippon Ham literally walked off.

Nippon Ham’s Opening Day starter, Naoyuki Uwasawa allowed two runs over seven innings, while striking out six, but Cory Spangenberg blasted his first homer in the eighth and Wu Nien-ting doubled and scored another insurance run in the ninth.

Seibu starter Keisuke Honda allowed a run over five innings, and four relievers held the Fighters in check with Reed Garrett working the seventh and Kaima Taira striking out the side in the eighth. Taira recorded a team record of getting a “hold point”–a hold or a win in relief–in 13 straight games.

Dragons 9, Giants 6

At Tokyo Dome, four of Chunichi’s runs scored on ordinary flies that found holes, a pair of RBI flares, and a ninth-inning two-run triple off Thyago Vieira on a routine fly that iced the game and wasn’t caught because Yomiuri played the game by Japan’s book.

The Japanese book says bring the outfield in with two outs and a runner on second to keep him from scoring on a single. Trailing 7-6 in the ninth with two outs and runners on second and third, the Giants’ outfield came in and Yohei Oshima’s poke landed just beyond left fielder Zelous Wheeler’s glove.

With Chunichi’s bullpen, the difference between one and three runs really didn’t matter much. Right-handed side-armer Katsuki Matayoshi has stepped seamlessly into the spot vacated by Daisuke Sobue, who’s now on the farm, while Raidel Martinez was pumped. The right-hander’s roar when he struck out Justin Smoak to end it could be heard over Tokyo’s afternoon thunder.

New Dragon Mike Gerber went 2-for-5 with three strikeouts a single and a booming RBI double in Chunichi’s three-run sixth. Dayan Viciedo homered in the fifth, his fourth of the season and his third in four games.

Smoak and Wheeler helped power the Giants’ comeback from a 7-0 deficit, and a beauty of a swing by Wheeler propelled a seventh-inning curve on the outside corner out to the opposite field to close the gap to a run.

Giants lefty Nobutaka Imamura (2-1) allowed four runs in 4-2/3 innings. Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (2-2) struck out seven in five-plus innings, while allowing three runs and singling in a run.

Giants-Dragons highlights

BayStars 10, Swallows 2

At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Tyler Austin homered off the scoreboard, singled twice walked and scored three runs to help power the BayStars. The home run was his fourth and his third in four days. Neftali Soto doubled in a run in DeNA’s six-run seventh.

Southpaw Edwin Escobar (1-0) struck out two in a 1-2-3 sixth to earn the win and Kevin Shackelford worked a perfect eighth for the BayStars, while Hirotoshi Takanashi (2-1) allowed four runs, one earned, over five-plus innings and took the loss.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Takahisa Hayakawa (3-2, 2.56) vs Shota Suzuki (1-1, 2.45)

Buffaloes vs Hawks: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Sachiya Yamasaki (0-3, 4.56) vs Yuki Matsumoto (1-1, 5.40)

Central League

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Kousuke Sakaguchi (1-1, 2.79) vs Yasuhiro Ogawa (2-1, 4.23)

Tigers vs Carp: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (4-0, 1.78) vs Yusuke Nomura (0-2, 4.42)

Active roster moves 5/1/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/11players marked with an asterisk are coronavirus deactivations and can be activated as soon as they are cleared to play.

Central League

Activated

None

Dectivated

BayStarsP20Yuya Sakamoto

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP37Nick Martinez
MarinesP18Kota Futaki
FightersOF66Chusei Mannami

Dectivated

MarinesP48Toshiya Nakamura
EaglesC44Yuichi Adachi
FightersOF61Yuma Imagawa*

NPB Wrap 4-27-21

Today’s Orix

“Rakuten didn’t catch up, Orix gave the game away. It’s like a weekly occurence, or ‘Today’s Orix.'”

–Former Rakuten Eagles manager Dave Okubo on Pro Yakyu News

Buffaloes 5, Eagles 5

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix third baseman Tatsuya Yamaashi’s defensive miss-steps—one miss-throw and one miss-step to be precise—contributed to three Buffaloes relievers allowing three ninth-inning runs to tie it

Eagles veteran Takayuki Kishi had his second straight mediocre start, allowing three runs over six innings, easily outpitched by Daiki Tajima, who gave up a run over seven while striking out seven and walking one.

Steven Moya went 3-for-4 with a double and a sixth-inning home run for Orix, while teammate Yutaro Sugimoto’s two-run eighth-inning homer made it a 5-2 game.

After a leadoff walk, Yamaashi’s wide throw on a potential double play ball pulled his teammate off the bag at second, bringing the tying run to the plate. After a walk loaded the bases, Yamaashi let another double play opportunity slip. He went to step on the bag for the force before throwing home for the tag. Unfortunately, Yamaashi neglected to step on the bag, and only managed to get the first out of the inning at home.

Daichi Suzuki followed with an RBI single and Hiroaki Shimauchi delivered a two-run double. Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui threw a scoreless ninth to lock down the tie.

Fighters 7, Hawks 2

At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Nippon Ham’s Takayuki Kato (2-0) held SoftBank to two runs over seven innings, while Mizuki Hori and Bryan Rodriguez mopped up for the last-place Fighters.

Carter Stewart Jr. entered in long relief with the Hawks losing 3-0 in the fourth and got a lot of work, allowing four runs over 2-2/3 innings in which he allowed five hits, walked two and struck out two.

The Pro Yakyu News crew was fairly annoyed by Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama using Sho Nakata in the No. 2 spot, but stopped short of calling it an insult the way Alex Ramirez’s similar use of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo two years ago was treated.

Nakata walked three times doubled and scored two runs. So there.

Lions 3, Marines 1

At MetLife Dome, Towa Uema (1-1) held Japan’s best offense to a run over five innings and Seibu’s bullpen pitched four innings of shutout ball to beat Ayumu Ishikawa (1-1) and Lotte. Ishikawa allowed five hits and a walk and threw 101 pitches in the eight-inning complete-game loss.

Cory Spangenberg was moved up to the No. 2 spot, from where he reached base twice and scored. Reed Garrett, the first of four Lions relievers, worked around a one-out single in a scoreless fifth.

Spangenberg was run out on the bases in the first, but he and leadoff man Sosuke Genda set up the Lions decisive runs in the fourth. After they reached on singles, Genda took second on a fly to the track with Spangenberg taking second, allowing both to score on a Takeya Nakamura single.

Giants 14, Swallows 11

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, with the wind blowing out, there were seven home runs, including four in a ninth inning that started 8-8 and which both teams combined to score nine runs. Yomiuri’s Zelous Wheeler, who entered as a substitute after Eric Thames’ debut was cut short by a ruptured right Achilles tendon rupture, homered to lead off the ninth against Yakult closer Taichi Ishiyama (0-1).

The win lifted the Giants back into second place and snapped Yakult’s first five-game win streak in three years.

Wheeler entered in the bottom of the third and went 4-for-4, tacking on a single in his second at-bat in the ninth inning.

Scott McGough pitched a scoreless eighth for Yakult, but Giants lefty Kota Nakagawa (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth to earn the win, while Ryoma Nogami stopped the bleeding with three solid innings of middle relief.

Thames and Justin Smoak both made their long-awaited debuts. Smoak went 2-for-4 with a single in his first at-bat and another in Yomiuri’s two-run inning against tough middle reliever Noboru Shimizu. Thames struck out twice before injuring his right calf landing on the outfield turf on a Jose Osuna single.

It was one of two high bounces that helped keep the Swallows offense ticking along. The Swallows offense was powered mostly two homers, a single and a walk from slugger Munetaka Murakami, while Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto singled, doubled, walked, had a sacrifice fly and hit a two-run ninth-inning homer.

On Pro Yakyu News, Yutaka Takagi attributed the Swallows’ loss in the wild slug fest to a missed two-strike sacrifice in the eighth inning.

Dragons 2, Tigers 1

At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, Chunichi’s Sawamura Award winner Yudai Ono (1-2) allowed a run over eight innings to outduel Yuki Nishi (3-1). Hanshin rookie Teruaki Sato hit a massive bomb for his seventh home run, and the Tigers’ only score, in the second.

Dayan Viciedo and Akira Neo each had two hits for the Dragons to help set up their runs. Closer Raidel Martinez struck out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth to earn his second save.

“I earned my first win this season in my fifth game, that’s a whole lot better than last year when I didn’t win until my seventh, so I’m pretty pleased,” said Ono, who earned won his seventh straight decision against Hanshin in Nagoya.

Carp 10, BayStars 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita (3-2) went 2-for-3 with a an RBI single in the Carp’s seven-run third when Shinichi Onuki (1-2) was sent packing after 2-1/3 innings.

Rookie Ryutaro Hatsuki opened the big inning with an infield single and capped the rally with a three-run triple. Morishita struck out seven, hit a batter, and allowed three hits.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Lions vs Marines: MetLife Dome 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Tatsuya Imai (1-2, 2.74) vs Kazuya Ojima (0-1, 4.30)

Buffaloes vs Eagles: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yoshinobu Yamamoto (3-2, 1.73) vs Takahiro Norimoto (2-1, 2.81)

Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1, 2.55) vs Hiromi Ito (0-2, 2.77)

Central League

Swallows vs Giants: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Albert Suarez (1-1, 2.05) vs Yuki Takahashi (4-0, 1.29)

Dragons vs Tigers: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT

Akiyoshi Katsuno (2-1, 4.19) vs Koyo Aoyagi (2-1, 2.08)

Carp vs BayStars: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (1-1, 3.74) vs Masaya Kyoyama (0-2, 9.00)

Active roster moves 4/27/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/7

Central League

Activated

GiantsP23Ryoma Nogami
GiantsIF10Justin Smoak
GiantsOF44Eric Thames

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

HawksOF30Naoki Sato
FightersP58Masaki Tanigawa
FightersOF3Wan Po-jung 
BuffaloesP63Soichiro Yamazaki

Dectivated

HawksP28Rei Takahashi
BuffaloesP52Tyler Higgins

NPB wrap 4-24-21

Tanaka ‘comes home’, wins 100th in Japan

Eagles 2, Lions 1

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Masahiro Tanaka (1-1) earned his 100th victory in Japan in his first game back at Rakuten’s home park since saving Game 7 of the 2013 Japan Series. He allowed a run on a walk and three hits while striking out four over six innings.

His postgame hero interview began with the announcer welcoming him back to Sendai, to which he answered, “I’m home.”

Notes on Tanaka’s 2nd start

A day after homering in his Japan debut, Brandon Dixon drove in the first of two Eagles first-inning runs with a two-out bad-hop infield single, and looked like a Golden Glove winner at first base after a quick-thinking unassisted double play after he dropped a scorching second-inning liner.

That play and a good catch in center to open the game ensured Tanaka would only allow one run. Cory Spangenberg was hit by a pitch in the third, stole second and scored when Wu Nien-Ting did a good job singling on a low splitter. Tanaka allowed another single in the inning, but with the game in the balance, retired the last 10 batters he faced.

Sung Chia-hao, HIromoto Sakai and Yuki Matsui closed it out for the Eagles with one scoreless inning each.

Keisuke Honda (0-1) allowed two runs over 3-2/3 innings in his season debut for Seibu. Reed Garrett contributed a scoreless eighth for the Lions.

Fighters 5, Buffaloes 3

At Sapporo Dome, the Nippon Ham Fighters pounded out five runs against Orix lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (0-3), capped by Haruki Nishikawa’s second homer, a two-run shot.

Naoyuki Uwasawa (2-2) allowed two runs over seven innings.

Masataka Yoshida belted his fifth homer for the Buffaloes to lead off the fifth and came within a hair of making it a 5-4 game in the sixth. With two on and two outs, Yoshida drove one to deep to left field that Nishikawa raced back and made a leaping grab on.

The win was the Fighters’ first of the season at Sapporo Dome.

Marines 11, Hawks 9

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, four walks derailed Carter Stewart Jr.’s second outing for the SoftBank Hawks, as he allowed two of the Lotte Marines last six runs when he retired just two of the seven batters he faced in the fifth inning.

Hawks starter Rei Takahashi allowed five runs over 3-1/3 innings, but the Hawks retook the lead in the top of the fifth and sent Stewart out to pitch with a 6-5 lead. He allowed a leadoff double and left after issuing back-to-back bases-loaded two-out walks. SoftBank re-tied it in the top of the sixth, only for Katsuya Kakunaka to put the hosts ahead for good in the home half with an RBI single.

Frank Herrman put a stop to the Hawks’ comeback in the seventh, and Leonys Martin, who singled and scored in Lotte’s three-run third, helped put the game away in the home half with his eighth home run, a two-run shot.

Yurisbel Gracial had four hits and a walk, scored a run and drove one in for SoftBank, while Marines rookie Akito Takabe hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Marines a 5-4 lead and pushed across the tying run in the fifth.

Marines starter Manabu Mima got shelled for six runs over 4-1/3 innings. Closer Naoya Masuda entered with the tying runners on with no outs in the ninth and worked around a walk to earn his fourth save.

Carp 6, Giants 3

At Tokyo Dome, Seiya Suzuki’s fifth homer and his second in two nights put Hiroshima in front for good against Yomiuri’s Shosei Togo (2-2), who allowed four runs in four-plus innings.

Rookie Carp lefty Koya Takahashi (1-0) gave up three runs, two earned in 4-1/3, and matched Togo’s RBI from a second-inning squeeze by singling in a run with two outs in the fourth.

Hiroshima’s bullpen, which has made great strides this year with the inclusion of two rookies, middle man Haruki Omichi and closer Ryoji Kuribayashi, looked fragile on Saturday, allowing four walks and two hits over the last 3-2/3 innings but stranded six runners. Kuribayashi worked around two ninth-inning walks to record his seventh save.

Giants-Carp highlights

Swallows 4, Dragons 3

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Jose Osuna followed his two-hit Japan debut on Friday with two more on Saturday, including a two-out line single into the gap in right off Chunichi closer Raidel Martinez (0-1) to clinch a walk-off win.

Tetsuto Yamada put Yakult in front with his seventh home run and third in two nights, a two-run, third-inning shot into the first row in left field off Yuya Yanagi, who worked six innings. Yakult’s Hirotoshi Takanashi surrendered Takuya Kinoshita’s second home run that made it 2-1 in the fifth, and left with the game tied in the sixth with two on and none out.

Hiroki Kondo, signed after being released last winter by the Rakuten Eagles, prevented either runner from scoring. Noboru Shimizu worked a 1-2-3 seventh before Yota Kyoda hammered Scott McGough’s fifth pitch in the eighth for his first homer of the season. The right-hander, however, retired the three toughest outs in Chunichi’s lineup.

Rookie lefty Koshiro Sakamoto (1-0) worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the Swallows and earned his first pro win. Yamada and Munetaka Murakami set the table in the ninth with no-out walks, before Osuna ended it.

Tigers 13, BayStars 1

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin rookie lefty Masashi Ito (2-0) allowed a run on a walk and five hits over the distance, preventing the DeNA BayStars from posting their second winning streak of the season and contributed with one of the Tigers’ seven first-inning hits off Taiga Kamichatani (0-3).

Koji Chikamoto doubled to open Hanshin’s first inning and scored from third when Jefry Marte chopped one threw the drawn-in infield for al one-out single. Three straight hits followed with rookie Teruaki Sato singling in two. After a fielder’s choice, Seiya Kinami cleared the bags with a three-run double.

Sato singled in two more runs in the second, while Jerry Sands, who singled in the first and second, had an RBI double in Hanshin’s three-run fourth. Right-hander Kevin Shackelford, who joined DeNA on a non-roster developmental contract in December and was added to the 70-man roster on Friday, was called up Saturday and struck out one batter in a 1-2-3 seventh.

Starting pitchers

Pacific League

Fighters vs Buffaloes: Sapporo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Chihiro Kaneko (0-1, 2.38) vs Daichi Takeyasu (1-0, 3.00)

Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Takahisa Hayakawa (2-2, 2.10) vs Katsunori Hirai (3-0, 1.82)

Marines vs Hawks: Zozo Marine Stadium 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Shota Suzuki (0-1, 2.35) vs Yuki Matsumoto (1-0, 1.80)

Central League

Giants vs Carp: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nobutaka Imamura (2-0, 0.92) vs Yusuke Nomura (0-2, 4.73)

Swallows vs Dragons: Jingu Stadium 5:30 pm, 4:30 am EDT

Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-1, 4.35) vs Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-1, 1.42)

Tigers vs BayStars: Koshien Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Joe Gunkel (4-0, 1.09) vs Kosuke Sakaguchi (1-1, 1.80)

Active roster moves 4/24/2021

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/4

Central League

Activated

GiantsP35Toshiki Sakurai
TigersP43Koki Moriya
TigersOF97Dan Onodera
BayStarsP49Kevin Shackelford
BayStarsIF60Naoto Chino
SwallowsP35Koki Sugiyama

Dectivated

GiantsP15Angel Sanchez
TigersP19Shintaro Fujinami
TigersIF26Fumiya Hojo
BayStarsIF31Tatsuhiro Shibata
SwallowsP11Yasunobu Okugawa

Pacific League

Activated

LionsP45Keisuke Honda
EaglesC44Yuichi Adachi

Dectivated

EaglesOF12Rusney Castillo